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News Release

Billions down the drain: the real cost of slow website speed

Websites that are slow to load pages will cost UK online retail 8.5 billion in 2013.
Released: 29th November 2013
Publisher: Fieldworks Marketing

Websites that are slow to load pages will cost UK online retail £8.5 billion in 2013, according to new research by Summit, specialists in online marketing and eCommerce, which has conducted an in-depth study on some of the biggest online retailers.

The findings of the research paint a stark picture of lost opportunities. Looking at 230 of the leading retailers trading online shows that over 92% are failing to meet the industry's 3-second page load benchmark, while some are running as high as eight seconds or more. For a retailer turning over £10 million on line, that means lost revenue of as much as £1 million.

The research targeted the top 230 sites in the UK (Hitwise and Retail Week) and looked at the overall average page speed result, from home page, search page, product page and category page, at peak and off peak periods over three days.

Average load times for all retailers across all pages were:

  • Home: 4.11 seconds
  • Search: 4.08 seconds
  • Category: 4.25 seconds
  • Product: 5.20 seconds

The problem was industry wide with only travel standing out; 20% of the sector’s sites met the benchmark average. In retail, the winners, whose average site speed was three seconds or less were Fenwick, Fortnum & Mason, Fraser Hart, Freemans, Hobbs, Jessops, Timpson and Zara.

Hedley Aylott, CEO of Summit, said, “Everyone talks about website speed, but only as a technical issue; this is the first time it has been aligned to loss of revenue. We’ve exposed the cost of slow websites to British retail. There is significant revenue to be recovered by making your sites work faster. In some cases this amount could be enough to open a brand new store.”

Summit’s findings are backed by research from Aberdeen Group, which shows that a one second delay in page response can result in a 7% reduction in conversions, an 11% reduction in the number of pages viewed, and a 16% decline in reported customer satisfaction.

Product pages that are slow to load are where retailers are most vulnerable to lost revenue.

For fashion consumers, browsing on eCommerce sites is an important part of the decision making process. A slow site can frustrate shoppers and reduce the number of pages they view leading to a reduced average order value.

Andrew McClelland, Chief Operations & Policy Officer at IMRG, the UK’s industry association for online retail, says “Customers are faced with increasing levels of choice all the time, across a wide range of channels, networks and devices. The impact on visitor bounce rates (where a user arrives at a retail site but leaves without visiting any other pages) has been clear to see in our Quarterly Benchmarking Index; in 2010 the average rate was 21.7% for the year but by 2012 this had risen to 27%. The competition for consumer attention is only going to get fiercer going forward, and improving load times may prove advantageous in keeping key metrics such as bounce rates down.”

Slow product pages can also be a turn off where customers have invested in the journey, from home page to category to search, but a positive experience up to that point is then spoiled. Many will either quit or buy less, where their precious time is being eroded by slow product page load speed.


Download the report today get the full insight into the performance per sector, which pages were the worst performers and whether your brands was on the 12 that met the industry 3-second benchmark. The report also details why website speed is important and tips on what you can do to improve your site speed today.

About Summit

Summit is a changemaker wherever retail meets digital. Our advice helps you think differently about your business. The technology we develop makes it easy for you to trade and a pleasure for your customers to shop. The online marketing we deliver brings people closer to your business.  While we’ll challenge you, excite you and surprise you, above all you’ll find working with us a joy.

We work with some of the UK’s most exciting retailers including Arcadia Group, Argos, Homebase, Selfridges, Made.com and Carpetright. We’re a Magento Gold Partner, Microsoft certified gold partner and we have a retail academy for our passionate staff.

Summit focuses solely on the retail sector, meaning all of our experience and knowledge is tightly focused. This leads us to deliver better results than less specialised marketing and technology companies. In fact, we’re the best placed to help you unlock the unrealised and massive revenue potential of multichannel marketing.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. www.summit.co.uk

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